I give this post the simple title "April 12" because I am going to talk about several events which took place on that date in the past few hundred years.
We all know that on April 12, 1861, Confederate forces began artillery bombardment of Fort Sumter. It was the opening salvo of the Civil War.
And we know that on April 12, 1945, Franklin D. Roosevelt, President of the United States, died at his retreat at Warm Springs, Georgia.
What you may or may not know, depending if you have kept up with this blog and given a jellybaby about the fact, is that on April 12, 1947 -- two years to the day after the death of FDR -- I was born in Long Beach, Los Angeles County, California.
And I think many are aware that on April 12, 1961 -- one hundred years to the day after the beginning of the Civil War in the U.S., Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first man to fly into space.
I do not know whether it is because of the date of my birth or some other factor, but I have all my life been a "Roosevelt groupie." I just love reading about both Roosevelt presidents, Theodore and Franklin. And I think Eleanor Roosevelt was the greatest lady of the Twentieth Century. She was active, intelligent, wise, and she carried on in the face of awful psychological blows. She had strength of character and strength of purpose. Unsure of herself at first during her husband's presidency, she became a strong advocate for the underdog and an ambassador of the best in the American character.
Speaking of Eleanor, the timing was right last night, when I attended the University of North Florida Graduate Students' Organization social. We played the game where someone writes down the name of a famous person, living or dead, and tapes it to your back. You are supposed to find out who it is by asking "yes" or "no" questions. I asked, "Is the person female?" Yes. "Is she living?" No. "Was she white?" Yes. "Twentieth Century?" Yes. Then I made what to me was the obvious guess -- Eleanor Roosevelt. I was right.
I visited Warm Springs many years ago with one of my college roommates. I was by myself in the part of the house where the President's desk was located. As I stood facing that desk and contemplating the man and his era, I felt a presence. I felt a touch at my back. There was nobody there but me. Nobody there but me -- and FDR. I do not ordinarily believe in "the supernatural" as far as ghostly manifestations and such, but I definitely felt a touch, a warm touch, at my back.
So every year on my birthday, I do spend a little while, if only a few minutes, thinking about FDR, and about Eleanor. It wouldn't hurt us to have people like them in public life today.